14 May 2013

CHILLING ROMANCE / SPELLBOUND

KOREAN MOVIE REVIEW:


Well I thought I had better try and write a review for a project that doesn’t star Kang Dong-won for a change and so thought of this lovely movie, 'Spellbound' also known as 'Chilling Romance',  which I have seen numerous times over the last year or so.  






I think it is a wonderfully fun film which doesn’t require much concentration in order to enjoy, but is still filled with enough heart and fresh ideas to keep the viewer thoroughly invested throughout. It is filled with sweet romance, silly comedy and surprisingly, even a few genuinely chilling moments as well.  

This has got to be the first horror romcom I have ever seen that actually brings a little bit of legitimate horror to the table, not an easy thing to do in my opinion (laughing and screaming don’t mix particularly well) so I found the whole storyline to be quite fresh and original, definitely unique amongst the plethora of romantic comedies floating around out there.  
However, having voiced my personal opinion on that subject,  I should also mention that when I asked a Korean friend what she thought of the film she answered it was boring with a plot concept that she has seen time and time again. This makes me wonder if movies such as this one are perhaps a little more common in Korea, meaning that for Koreans themselves there is a bit of a 'been there, done that' kind of attitude, whereas for me this idea still seems new and fresh.

Or you know, maybe my friend just doesn't like the movie.....



The plot revolves around a sad and lonely young woman, Yeo-ri , literally haunted by her past (and I mean literally) to a point that she is unable to engage in any type of human contact whatsoever, as in no friends (except over the phone), no boyfriends, not even family visits.  She lives alone, works as a magician's assistant (the sad ghosty kind, not the spangly sexy kind) and hangs out at her dark depressing home by herself for kicks during her free time.
Yeo-ri assures her family (who left for Europe to try and escape the ghostly curse) and her two (hilarious) friends over the phone that she is completely happy being alone, and she tries her best to believe it herself, because when people do become involved in her life, they end up face to face with the ghost that haunts her.

And this ghost is most definitely malignant, with a deep desire to destroy anyone and anything that comes too close to Yeo-ri, enacting a sort of revenge for its own too short life. It’s ultimate goal seems to be to obstruct Yeo-ri from actually living her life, and so although she is alive and breathing, she can’t really ever live, forced to sleepwalk through life alone. Which is exactly what the ghost wants.


I really liked Son Ye-jin’s performance as the quiet and sad Yeo-ri, and also thought the ever impish Lee Min-ki was wonderful as the comedic element of the movie Jo-goo, cheeky and cute (and also hilariously terrified) as he attempts to deal with the sudden manifestation of ghostly happenings as he slowly becomes involved in Yeo-ri’s life.

When the movie starts we see how the two leads met, her lonely mysterious image being the inspiration for the magic show that has made him famous. They have been working together for around a year and yet he still knows nothing about her, as everytime he tries to invite her to hang out with the staff for afterwork dinners or drinks she always refuses. Until one day he forces her (think an amusing but petty yelling match as he uncooly threatens to fire her) and so she goes.
I know the part where she gets drunk and rips his shirt was pretty silly but I couldn’t stop giggling at the sight of him with the two holes over his chest (little nipple holes...he he) and it’s this experience that finally piques his interest in her.  

I won’t go through the whole plot (because this is a review and not a recap!!) but some scenes that I particularly liked was when, during an unwelcome visit to Yeo-ri’s house, Jo-goo sees a little boy in her garden and lets the kid inside, ignoring her protests against it.  And so he unwittingly unleashes the tiny ghost on himself as the boy then follows him home. 
It is so amusing when Jo-goo plays hide and seek with the ghost, never realising what he really is, and it is only later when the boy also appears at his own home that Yeo-rim has to get involved and save him. The whole scene is played for laughs (and played well) so it definitely messes with the viewers emotions and expectations when the scene suddenly shifts to the two leads finding the young boy’s father trapped in an overturned car, his dead son in the back seat.
Such a shock!

And that is what I felt this movie just does so incredibly well. It pulled me around relentlessly, one moment hilarious, the next dark and sad, straight on to cute and romantic and back to ominous and scary.
In other words, what this film did was give me whiplash. But it was the good type of whiplash (is that a thing that exists...?) and the exact kind of whiplash that I would freely recommend to anyone who enjoys a sweet romantic comedy. 
With some added ghosts and sadness.   
And also with a lovely happy ending and loads of laughs.
 I will stop now.

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